With reckless apathy, spectators gathered at a safe distance to watch as my son Joel tried to stop a guy from beating a woman.
All of this was going on at the corner of 72nd and Dodge in Omaha. Right there in front of everyone. Right there in the middle of morning rush hour. Right there.
When Joel first heard screaming, he looked up from his workstation and saw a woman desperately running from her avenger. Joel didn't stop to think. He just bolted out the door and ran straight at the fury.
With no requisite other than to do what's right, he threw himself in front of the abuser, acting as a barrier.
While knuckling under punches intended for the woman, my son yelled for someone, anyone, to call the police.
"I couldn't believe it, Mom. They all just stood there and watched. It was pretty sad. They hollered back at me to stay out of it. That was as depressing as the bully beating up his girlfriend."
Eventually, something made the man run off. The crowd that had collected on the corner. My son's intervention. Something.
Hysterical and barely standing, the woman grabbed Joel.
"Ayudame! Ayudame!" Help me! Help me! She cried with bloody spit spewing through her teeth and splattering down the front of her clothes.
Joel helped her across the parking lot to a restaurant where he got her a glass of water and stayed until police arrived.
She didn't speak English but acknowledged through an interpreter that the abuser had been chasing her for many blocks through busy morning traffic. No one stopped. No one tried. No one cared.
"It's something I wish I didn't have to think about, Mom."
A resident of Southeast South Dakota for more than 30 years, Paula Damon is a popular columnist, keynote speaker, and freelance writer. Her columns have won first-place national and state awards in The National Federation of Press Women competitions. Most recently, Damon's writing took second place statewide in the South Dakota Press Women 2007 Competition. For more information, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
© 2008 Paula Damon